Do executives ever just retire?

Why is it pretty much a given that when an executive retires, they almost always wind up with a lush consulting contract? Take Zenith National Insurance (ZNT) which recently announced that senior vice president John Tickner was stepping down at the end of March. Starting in April, Tickner will collect $21,666 a month for the next two years and in exchange will be required to work no more than 240 hours a quarter. In April 2007, according to the agreement in a recent 8-K, Tickner’s fee will drop to $10K a month in exchange for 120 hours of work per quarter. Granted, Tickner has been at the company a long time, and unlike a lot of other consulting contracts for ex-execs, he’ll actually make less in his part-time consulting job than he did when he was working full-time. But investors still should question why these deals have become so commonplace and what exactly they’re getting in exchange.